Rather eccentric, accident-prone, but highly capable, Henry Evelyn Wood was born in 1838 and began his military career as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. His sea service led to the discovery that he suffered from vertigo, which prevented him from going aloft.
His condition did not prevent him from serving ashore with the Naval Brigade during the Crimean War. During the assault on the Redan, he was wounded in the arm which almost led to its amputation. His courage during the attack led to his first recommendation for the Victoria Cross.
Invalided home he transferred out of the navy and into the army. Not fully recovered from his arm wound, he returned to the Crimea and was stricken by both pneumonia and typhoid. Wood's mother traveled to the Crimea to bring her son home to convalesce.
He was posted to India in 1858 and was mauled by a tiger he had wounded during a hunt and was later trampled by a local maharaja's pet giraffe that he attempted to ride on a bet.
Wood would see more active service during the Indian Mutiny. earning a second recommendation for the VC which he was awarded. His citation read:
"For having, on the 19th of October, 1858, during Action at Sindwaho, when in command of a Troop of the 3rd Light Cavalry, attacked with much gallantry, almost single-handed, a body of Rebels who had made a stand, whom he routed. Also, for having subsequently, near Siudhora, gallantly advanced with a Duffadar and Sowar of Beatson's Horse, and rescued from a band of robbers, a Potail, Chemmum Singh, whom they had captured and carried off to the Jungles, where they intended to hang him."
In 1860 he was invalided home suffering from sunstroke and several other maladies.
Several promotions and staff appointments in England followed his return home. At the same time, he earned a law degree almost died from an accidental overdose of prescribed morphine.
During the Ashanti War of 1873 Wood served under Garnet Wolseley, becoming a member of Wolseley's so-called Africa Ring although the two had a permanent falling out in the wake of the Transvaal War in 1881. In Ashanti Wood was wounded again. This time in the chest.
He saw additional action during the 9th Cape Frontier War in South Africa and almost immediately after found himself in command of the number 4 column during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. He received a stinging reverse at the hands of the Zulus at Hlobane but offered the Zulus a sharp defeat at Khambula the very next day (29 March 1879). He was present at the Zulu's final defeat at Ulundi later that year.
Wood returned to South Africa in 1881 during the Transvaal War of 1881. He assumed command convinced he could make good the reverses suffered by the British by the Boers. Instead, he was ordered by the Gladstone government to make peace with the Boers. Wolseley thought that Wood should have resigned his commission before leaving British humor unavenged and never forgave Wood for it.
Service in Egypt followed in 1881. While Wood saw little action during Wolseley's Egyptian Campaign of 1881, he was appointed Sirdar (commander) of the Egyptian Army in 1882. He held the post until 1885. Wood had hoped for the command of the Gordon Relief Expedition (1884-85) but Garnet Wolseley received the appointment instead.
Wood finished out his career with several promotions and staff appointments followed. Internal politics and rivalries kept him from any further field commands. His career culminated with his promotion to field marshal in April 1903. He retired from the army in December 1905.
Wood died in 1919 at the age of 81 and was buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery.
8 inches by 10 1/2 Inches (20 cm x 27 cm)
From The Men of Mark Series
Lock & Whitfield - Photographer
Crown Buildings 188 Fleet Street, London, England
Cut Signature Autograph
3 1/2 Inches by 2 1/4 Inches (9 cm x 5.5 cm)